While at the Breathe Conference, I attended Erin Bartels’ workshop entitled “Finding Your Writing Rhythm”. Here’s how the official schedule described it:
This workshop will show you how to be a good steward of your time, space, and creative energies so you can stop making excuses and start writing!
I chose this workshop over the others because I know how valuable time is to both me and my family. I’d love to get more use out of the time that I have without eating into the time I have dedicated to my wife and kids. I never want my family to question whether my writing is more important than they are.
The session opened with a Calvin & Hobbes comic to which I unfortunately relate.
After going through the comic, Erin asked us to close our eyes and imagine the perfect writing scenario. There would be a never-ending pot of coffee, a complete lack of noisy children, plenty of natural light, and a chair that was impossibly comfortable. Of course, stuff like that just doesn’t happen in the real life.
Instead, we went over the various things in our lives than can make writing difficult. We listed the things that steal time, create space problems, and starve our creative energies. After we had a pretty impressive (sad) list on the board, we started going over ways to take back time, create a space for creativity, and feed our muse. Here are some of the ideas that were mentioned.
Make More Time
- Quit your job
- Get up early, stay up late
- Take writing vacations
- Learn to say no to hobbies; prioritize the important ones
- Let yourself/your housework go a bit
- Take your novel on a date (build writing time into couple time)
- Down time redemption (waiting = time for research/note taking)
Make a Better Space
- Take back a room’s use for writing
- Convert a closet
- Take advantage of mobility. Find a space that you don’t need to change: Coffee shops, library, bars, nature
- Create invisible boundaries in your home (Ex. “Mom won’t be disturbed for one hour…”)
- Change a current space to make it more fun to be in
- Indoor Date Night – Let the kids have free rein until they require intervention, then all the fun ends
Make More Creative Fuel
- Stay away from things that drain you
- Ask yourself if a hobby or other interest is siphoning off your creativity
- Stop squandering your brains on mobile devices/the internet
- Start conversations with people who are very different from you
- Take a moment to notice the world around you
- Turn down the volume of your inner critic
- Think about your project throughout the day so you are ready to write it down when you get the chance
- Bring a notebook everywhere
- Start or join a writers group
- Agree to disagree with naysayers
I am thankful for the amount of time that I have to write. I am also thankful that I don’t need extravagant spaces at home or in public to write. For me, the biggest takeaway from the session was in refueling my creative tank. In truth, I am a sucker for mindless activity. I could spend hours playing silly games online instead of writing. But the thing that rang true to me was to think about the project throughout the day in preparation for writing time.
When I was preparing for my first 3-day-novel competition, I spent many mental hours in imagining a world where sound was illegal. How would people communicate? How would they get from place to place? How do you deal with crying babies? It is a concept that still fascinates me. I filled a little notebook with idea after idea of how this society would work and those ideas helped me form a plot and my characters. It’s been a while since I have given that much mental energy to one of my projects and I’m kind of excited to get back into the world of one of my other unfinished novels.
But enough about me. What tips ring true to you? Which ones seem too extreme or unfeasible?